Respond, recover, reset, and then thrive! Building resilient communities during and beyond COVID 19

Respond, recover, reset, and then thrive! Building resilient communities during and beyond COVID 19

The second in IFIC’s “Care during and beyond the COVID-19 Crisis – Building integrated care as the cornerstone of our new reality” webinar series took place on 24 April. This webinar was organized in association with IFIC Australia and chaired by Professor Nick Goodwin, Chair of IFIC Australia and Director of the Central Coast Research Institute. The webinar focused on “Supporting Community Resilience in times of Public Health Crisis”

Community resilience refers to the sustained ability of a community to respond to, withstand and recover from shocks and stressors. In Australia, and other countries, natural disasters such as drought, bushfires, floods, earthquakes and infectious disease outbreaks such as COVID-19 are likely to have a sustained and negative impact on the health and wellbeing of people over a prolonged period of time. This webinar will explore evidence, and personal experiences, in supporting community resilience – both as a means to strengthen communities to withstand public health crises before they occur, in times of emergency response, and in the aftermath.

The webinar brought together experts from around the world representing patients and community, primary care, system leadership and academia, including: Vince Barry, CEO, Pegasus Health, Christchurch, New Zealand; Dr Antoine Boivin, Family physician and Canada Research Chair in Patient and Public Partnership; Ghislaine Rouly, Co-Lead of the «Caring Community Project», (Antoine Boivin), of the Canada Research Chair in Patient and Public Partnership. Patient partner, Centre of Excellence on Partnership with Patients and the Public (CEPPP), Canada; Professor David Perkins, Director, Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health (CRRMH), University of Newcastle and Director, IFIC Australia; Dr Ricardo Fábrega, Senior Adviser, Integrated Health Services, Pan American Health Organization (PAHO); and Dr Jason Cheah, Deputy Group CEO (Transformation), National Healthcare Group, CEO, Woodlands Health Campus, Singapore.

Some key themes emerged:

The importance of leadership: Vince Barry told us that “As leaders we cannot miss the opportunity that these crises present to us to change a lot of things that we have dreamt about for a long time.” He told us it’s a time to “respond, recover, reset and then thrive”. He also spoke of the resilience of communities and that systems need to build on and compliment that resilience.

Partnering with patients: Antoine Boivin told us “that frontline physicians and health professionals need to take a back seat to support, build capacity and empower patients, families and citizens who are the real front stage players.” He talked about the boundaries between health professionals and patients falling during crisis – “We care for one another and we care with one another, building on each other’s knowledge.” Ghislaine Rouly described examples of a programme both her and Antoine work together on in Montreal that is Linking people with community healthcare, is Bonding community members among themselves to facilitate mutual support for day to day activities and is Bridging with community support organizations to ease the psycho-social impact of the pandemic.

Empowering communities: David Perkins told us “when you see one rural town you have seen one rural town”. He told us that “it’s not about the battery that you have, it’s about being able to adapt to change, to support each other and it’s about agency – being able to support individuals and businesses, how are we supporting the local mayors, general practitioners, priests, local leadership?. He told us it is not about ‘sending solutions’ but rather we need to do ‘intense listening’ and ‘get alongside’ to understand how to really support vulnerable communities to get on top of a myriad of issues.

New ways of working together: Ricardo Fabrega suggests that the current hospital centric systems of care will not survive this crisis. From the pandemic he hopes “a new health system will emerge based on a prevention approach and a primary care strategy for the 21st century.” He told us “If we want to win, we have to have a public health and proactive approach – a solid network focused on correct care. We need to activate the power of the people to help care for themselves and support them in this task. A new approach of integrated care as a complement to self-care. Nobody can work alone; we need to help each other.”

The role of government in building resilient communities: Jason Cheah told us how “this crisis has taught us we can’t talk about community development or progressing without putting in elements of population health and enablement of the community.” He told us the role of government is important in supporting a community fabric that needs to be built over time and allows groups of people to be more resilient. “They should enable things to happen whether through funding, infrastructure or capabilities in terms of public health services, but it is the community itself who must organize services through the use of technology, using volunteers, that will then enable them to withstand these kind of jolts to the system.”

You can read of the full transcript below of their contributions facilitated by Professor Nick Goodwin, Chair of IFIC Australia and Director of the Central Coast Research Institute.